Students Debate Their Way to the Top

On February 16, the debate teams competed in the Vancouver Island Regional Debate Tournament with high hopes of qualifying for the 2008 Law Foundation Cup (LFC) Provincial Championships.

The regional tournament was held at Brentwood College School and three junior teams, one senior team and two Grade 8 teams competed successfully. Kristijan Gjorgjevik placed third in the junior individual category. Michael Groot and Christopher Groot earned the second-place spot for the junior team category. Julia Milden and Chris Fenje were the first-place Grade 8 team, making them the first-and second-place winners in the individual category.

Each year the Debate and Speech Association of B.C holds a series of tournaments that leads up to one of several regional debate championships. From these regional tournaments, debaters are selected to attend the BC LFC Provincial Debate Championships. This year, 168 of B.C’s best have been chosen to attend the Championships at Glenlyon Norfolk School in Victoria this spring.

Julian Milden, Chris Fenje, Kristijan Gjorgjevik, Katrina Gong, Michael Groot and Christopher Groot will represent SMUS at the provincials in April.

It’s no surprise that after the debate teams proved so successful at provincials that some of the same SMUS students would earn recognition at the Commonwealth Conference, a weekend debate event held at SMUS Saturday, February 23.

Director of Academics John Liggett welcomed 28 students from five local schools when he officially opened this year’s Student Commonwealth Conference. During the conference, students played the role of the heads of government for their chosen Commonwealth country, presenting their positions on selected topics for debate. In this year’s conference, the topics included freedom of religion, potable water, greenhouse gas emissions and freedom of movement for Commonwealth citizens. Their goal was to debate these issues with the aim of reaching consensus.

The Commonwealth consists of 53 independent states that consult and cooperate with one another to foster the best interests of their people. About 1.8 billion of the world’s citizens (30 per cent of the world’s population) reside in the Commonwealth, and represent a wide range of religions, ethnicities, and cultures.

The keynote address was delivered by alumna Katherine Guy, whose presentation on victims of acid throwing in Bangladesh and Uganda sparked an emotional response from many of the delegates. The students learned about the reasons for acid throwing and the response by UNICEF and CIDA to establish the Acid Survivors’ Foundation in Bangladesh. Katherine further challenged the students to become active on this issue as well as using the forum of government to bring about positive change in the Commonwealth.

SMUS students Kirsten Macleod, Kristijan Gjorgjevik, Kieran Hyatt, Robyn Hope, Charmaine Niewerth, Brandon Ewonus, Emily Feng, Gina Rogers, Brandon Chow, Chris Groot, Gaurav Sekhon, Emily Reid, Julie Shim, and Rachel Ellis participated in this day-long event. Kristijan Gjorgjevik and Robyn Hope were awarded second and third place respectively and will spend a week at the National Commonwealth Student Forum in Ottawa in early May. Additionally, Kirsten Macleod and Kristijan Gjorgjevik were acknowledged as the best delegation for their outstanding team work. We congratulate all the students on their excellent contributions to a day of stimulating debate.

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